On this page, you will find ...
personal writing, pictures from my favorite places, music recommendations, and some lessons learned throughout the years - I want this section of my website to capture the fun stuff: my love of music, colorful murals, reflective writing, and curiosity about how my current decisions prepare me for the future - I hope you'll find something that you want to take to go <3
Moodboard of inspiration from my mentors, community, and friends
At every crossroads in my life, I decide to reflect on where I am & where I’m going. Here’s a little taste of those reflections.
Seeing stars, falling in & Out of Love, and Learning to be whole again | Not-so Senior Year
As someone studying, human-centered design, I know that it’s not all about the numbers – in fact, it’s one of the least important pieces of data to me because I am more interested in people’s stories and the way they feel about things – but here we go anyway:
During the past 3 months, I took 21 credits, participated in 2 research groups, completed an honors project about the importance of representation, soldered some wires to buttons and lights, wrote 6 articles, and worked with scores of students at the Writing Center. I smiled for hundreds of photos with my pals, took senior photos for all of my lovely graduating friends, ate a lot of donuts at General Porpoise, and listened to a lot of dope live music. I talked to people about grad school and maybe kinda felt that I could get a PhD in education (something I’ve always wanted to do but was afraid to admit). I’m queer as hell and I’m proud to finally be out and expressing my deep & profound love to all the womxn in my life.
The most important thing I’ve learned is that love is the most transformative love of all. The last 2.5 months have been a time of kindness & acceptance & perpetually healing hearts that are nurtured by the kindness of others, and I don’t think I’d have it any other way. Here’s to even more mornings filled with honey ginger tea and s’mores crepes and colorful murals and time with people who make me feel like the best version of myself.
Next stop, Singapore, Bali, blooming cherry blossoms, and Spring 2018!
This quarter, I wrote a lot of things: 13 essays (including a paper on the intersection of privilege, inclusion, and design education!), 9 reflection papers, 7 articles for The Daily, 1 LinkedIn story, and a handful of blog posts that focused on pushing the limits of my creativity! I got to interview dope women of color who challenges institutions like UW to demonstrate values of diversity and inclusion. I listened intently to their stories and the ways they remember to believe in themselves even when the universe doubts their capabilities. One of the students I work with at the writing center mentioned that she reads my stories, and that it was cool to see how the things I love & value come through based on the things I write. This made me grin from ear to ear J
This quarter was a lesson in learning and loving deeply, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m lucky to be fighting another day, even if I’m tired as hell. Next stop, my last final, crepes with friends, my last writing shift of the quarter, and a 2 a.m. flight to Bali
A love letter to 2017
Today, I’m doing something a little different: I’m showing myself a little love, and it’s not just because my top song of 2017 was Show Me Love and I’ve been jamming to it ever since. I’m deciding to listen to the input that I have something valuable to give to the people in my life – I think everything might change because of this.
Well, we made it through (most of) 2017. I’d say that everything has changed, but most things are better. What’s stayed the same is my love of stories, passion for working with students, and desire to do something new every day – after all, why would I switch disciplines if this wasn’t the case? I made the jump into Human Centered Design & Engineering and then Microsoft and then working as a course assistant and researcher, all while retaining my identity as a writing tutor. I get to make thing that I’m proud of share them with the whole wide world and on my portfolio – and what’s better, I get to share it with people who really love me.
I learned to tell stories that needed to be shared the most urgently, trust others with the most vulnerable parts of myself, and thank people for what they’ve given me even if they have to leave. I live with the pretense that I have something important to say, so I seek out people who really listen and care about me all the time, not just when it’s convenient.
2017 has been a year of blooming & growing & recognizing that I deserve the love I give to others. It’s realizing that I’m not a reflection of those who can’t love me no matter what they tell.
a poem that I keep in mind when reflecting on this year:
there are feelings
you haven't felt yet
give them time
they are almost here
I hope to keep these things in mind as I reflect on love and loss.
One day, I’ll find the right words for the turn and churn of this year, and they will be simple. For now, I’m glad to make it out on the other side in one piece. So, current/future/past (?) me, you’re making your dreams happen so never stop fighting for what deserves to be yours. And my capacity to love doesn’t diminish, even when my faith in love does.
So when I’m told that I don’t matter, that my perspective isn’t necessary, that I’m not worthy of love and listening, I’ll remember to love myself first. I’m blessed to survive another day even through OChem and being pre-med and meanies from my past almost knocked me out. I hope to make the products I’ve envisioned (so don't wait for developers to make the user-centered product of your dreams) / work at companies that value my work / hone in on my identity as a storyteller / surround myself with people who love me – really, really love me.
In honor of reflection, storytelling, and the amazing mentors who helped me believe in myself, here are the top 17 moments when I invested in my happiness this year:
Put it all on the line and got into my dream major, Human Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE).
Performed in the Blank Monologues.
Took classes about creative non-fiction, user-centered design, and research.
Saw some of my favorite bands - Bad Suns, Chainsmokers, and Young the Giant to name a few - in concert!
Embraced my identity as a storyteller.
Landed my dream internship at Microsoft!
Said yes more than I said no.
Got my dream job as an HCDE course assistant.
Moved into a new place with the kindest roommates ever.
Reflected on daily moments of gratitude, struggle, and survival on my personal blog.
Saw Rupi Kaur perform live.
Took 2 coding classes – and survived them thanks to the help of amazing friends, TAs, and colleagues).
Worked with over 300 students at the Odegaard Writing and Research Center and Center for Learning and Undergraduate Enrichment.
Created a portfolio that celebrates my experiences from the last 3.5 years.
Thanks to Annette for starting this #YearInReview trend! I encourage you to share the most pivotal moments from the past year - here’s to even more growth in 2017!
pics or it didn't happen
Here are some of my favorite pictures from the past few summers - it'll be a while before I leave the country again, so this is my way of reliving those trips :)
Here's a few pictures from Washington (and a little bit of Oregon b/c we're reppin the Pacific Northwest), aka my favorite place in the world:
And now, we can venture into Europe. The first series of pictures are from my trip to Greece, and the next series is from pictures in Prague and Vienna
These pictures are from Thailand - I studied abroad here during Summer 2016:
And, lastly, here's a place where I'm logging pictures from Summer 2017 - although it's in progress still, I can tell that this summer will be a good one. I'm working at Microsoft, living in Seattle but keeping my visits to home in Federal Way (and friends in Tacoma/Gig Harbor) as frequently as possible:
Lessons of the summer: Relationships are the rhythm and hum of love and care // Hope is a good thing - maybe the best of things // Home will always be here // We need to keep sharing our stories // Create a safe place for people to take risks.
Winter Quarter 2017
This quarter was a lesson in abandoning the shallow and easy so I could learn how to build up a more resilient and vulnerable form of myself that I'm proud to share with the world. I returned to my passion for writing and storytelling and mentorship while trying all the shit that scared me i.e telling the story of my identity on a big stage / taking classes that forced me to learn how to code more strategically and keep the user in mind (damn I can frick with those data structures now)/ confront my privilege / take a chance and apply to my dream program (and say yes bc holla, your girl is gonna be engineer) / engage with the people in my field /apply for my dream jobs that were way out of my league but trying anyway / and identify the values that I'm grounded in (my money is on inclusion and diversity as values that underpin every aspect of my work, not just buzzwords for your quota) ❤ this is such a beautiful and precious life full of amazing people and conversations that helped me see myself a little be more clearly, and taking time to value these relationships was the most important thing I did this year ❤ so thanks winter 2k17 for tryna knock me out because newsflash, this lil' fighter doesn't go down so easily 🤗 I will end with the same gratitude that I began with, and I'm beyond excited about what's to come with HCDE and journalism and writing and all the lovely people that make me better every single day 💛
For even more personal writing, check out the inner workings of my mind at aansariblog.wordpress.com.
Junior year (2016 - 2017)
This year was all about new beginnings, taking risks, trusting myself, going after a major that I love despite the fear of failure, writing (and loving) more, worrying less, and giving myself my best chance.
tunes of the moment
Follow my current playlist on Spotify here (it's fun I promise)
Literally anything by Drizzy Drake. Current favorites include:
Super old and super new Chris Brown
Fertilizer by Frank Ocean
Can't Get Enough by J. Cole
Let's Get Lost by G-Eazy ft. Devon Baldwin (this song feels like healing)
"Playing with Perception" - TED Radio Hour
"Bad Medicine" - Snap Judgement
a little list of things i know (about myself and life in general)
Although I'm not a fan of using planners (I prefer a mental schedule over a physical one every day), I do really like lists as a way to organize my thoughts. So here are some things I know (about myself and life in general) that have bubbled to the service throughout my undergraduate career (and I hope to keep adding to this):
On me as a person of color and a warrior and proud to be here
If you're telling me something's impossible, you're begging me to do it
Sometimes I forget to give myself credit. And I’m learning to be better about that.
I was born and trained to tell stories – and I will always listen if you have one.
I will make it because of my culture - Mama didn't raise no quitter.
We need to have people of color in the room, especially when it comes to innovation.
On my identity as a writer / storyteller
The most important thing said to me is that I must keep writing (and the second most important thing is that I am a storyteller, and people see me this way).
I am a collector of stories, jokes, and good song recommendations, and I want to hear yours.
Self-discipline is a gift, and it’s a conscious choice that I make every day. Show up to class, ask questions during quiz section, make time to go to the gym and do things you love.
Always ask yourself, “what is this adding to your life?”
I am proud to be an interdisciplinary communicator with a passion for social impact. I like to make ideas, words, and products more accessible and actively strive to recognize my own biases in the process.
I really value tough conversations and vulnerability, and these things are integral for me to become the best version of myself that I'm proud to share with others.
I am in the right field – one where I get to help people weave their own narratives and re-introduce intentionality / their voice / values in their work.
I will keep striving to be more than I’ve ever been
Home will always be here - your opportunities are not.
Good reporting starts with getting out of the way and allowing people to share their perspective.
Writing will always be a strength: Whether you're evangelizing your feature area of writing strings, communicating is half the battle.
Engineer a story that transports people to another place.
Good storytellers are curious and self-aware - they ask good questions. If something looks out of place, there's probably a story - you need to have an instinct for what makes a good story
On learning to grow / lessons learned:
Learn to live in the tension. Oftentimes, feelings of discomfort are accompanied by opportunities to be molded by the experience. Recognize how the moment makes you feel.
Don't settle. Don't settle for the easiest way out, your first idea, the person whose there when it's convenient for them but dissipates into thin air when the going gets tough. As the episode "Slowing Down" from TED Radio Hour put it, doubt the default and look for a better option.
Don't be afraid to try. Our biggest regrets are not our actions but our I actions, the chances not taken and the questions left unanswered.
If you're in the mood, write. Write when you're happy and sad and confused about life or overcome with the beauty and serendipity or it. It's valuable in the moment and after, a timescale of your life and what mattered in the moment.
Take what you're given and build on it, especially things beyond your comfort zone.
Be who you are, where you are - if you can't, it's not the right fit.
There are multiple paths to happiness.
Communicate your process and understand your individual contributions - the culture demands it.
Attitude is half os any situation because you can't always control what happens, but you can control your response.
Adjust and iterate your process based on feedback.
People are successful because of how they approach design - and there will always be a new problem to solve.
Some things take a little time.
Always know why we're doing things.
Learn to interrupt and make room for your own story.
Look for skills, relationships, and culture fit.
On meaningful relationships
Don’t fall in love with the moment and pretend it’s the person. Take off the rose-colored glasses and know that a person or thing can be life-giving at one moment in time, even if it doesn’t do that anymore
Relationships really matter, and I will always put people’s needs first even though I am career/goal-oriented
Although I am extrovert-leaning and am learning to take up as much space as I need, I often feel more like an introvert (I’ve just found that the leaders and people I identify with are often extroverted, so I subliminally strive to emulate that)
Relationships are the quiet rhythm and hum of love and care - so hold people in your life to this standard - the good ones won't let you say goodbye, even if you try.
Your role models are closer than you think, so don't be afraid to reach out to them for coffee and/or conversation
With time and perspective, things change - and the world doesn't end, even if it feels like it.
Have a variety of role models and peers - they're good for critiques and laughter.
Maybe you have lose it all to remember how strong you are, with or without someone. Maybe you are greater than you believe, stronger than you think, and braver than you know - and that's always been the case
Help others in whatever way you know how.
Have the unrelenting desire to talk more about others than yourself.
The good ones won't leave you leave so easily - even if you try.
If you want people to be empowered, allow them to empower themselves.
Sometimes, the things that give us life must leave - and we must let them.
Seek goodbye hugs that warm you from the insight out.
Don't suspend the momentum of your life or this pivotal year.
Questions to ask
What choices have you made in the process of creating a career?
What's your path to happiness?
What's at the heart of what you're saying?
Are you a consumer or creator?
What kind of conversations do you want to start?
Are you living the life you promised yourself when you were young?
What are your unwritten rules of success?
What do you like about what you do now? What draws you?
Things that i've realized / want to remember:
All good things are a series of moments, intentional or otherwise, comprised of wrong turns that lead to the right people, messages that come in at the right time, and encouragement from others about pursuing my dreams. The vulnerability and forgiveness and passion I see in others is a reminder that people in my life are elevating me and pushing me to be better. I am so thankful for friends who push me and stronger and more honesty and more inclusive, which are things I already wanted to do but hope to do better // i'm a collector of stories, and I'd love to hear yours / you are a sucker for firsts / I’m realizing how hard it is to bring all of yourself to the table in terms of technical experience and passion, but it’s always worth trying / i am staying in the game / finding people who show up for you should be the rule and not the exception / run your own race / I’m realizing how hard it is to bring all of yourself to the table in terms of technical experience and passion, but it’s always worth trying / the pieces of my identity are not at odds / i am staying in the game / finding people who show up for you should be the rule and not the exception / I like myself enough to not need another person to fill the gaps. I have everything I need to thrive -> maybe this is the most beautiful form of radical self-acceptance, believing in my own ability and honoring what I've done / run your own race /push beyond this moment and fight harder / if you're not trying things, you're not learning/innovating / do you and do you well / if measure our life by what we give, I want mine to overflow with goodness and positive impact on people's lives in everyday ways / to be honest, I don't know how to do great yet /
whether I’m an engineer or doctor or educator, I will always try to be the person I needed when I was younger
push beyond this moment and fight harder / teach me the art of peace / what side of history are you on? / be self-aware and recognize ways that you can do better / healing, like self-care and self-love, is an everyday act / you are worthy of profound love because that's what you give to others / let it be known that I am an interest changer and PROUD AS FRICK OF it / your name is an earthquake in waiting // Chase moments of elation, the ones where you realize that you’re in the right field. I want to keep striving to be the best HCDE student – engineer – writer – friend I can possible be, and everything thus far has been a stepping stone to a life of fulfillment. And that’s one thing that’s not going to change – I will keep chasing happiness and confidence until it’s finally mine / learn to be forward as hell / it's never been better / I want to be more than I've ever been
It’s a general theme these days that people really matter to me, and I have found so much strength in meaningful relationships where I was felt profoundly connected to others, when people saw my potential or wanted to celebrate their victories with me, or were inspired by my work (or vice versa): When my friend said that I always made him laugh and that he was inspired by my work as a leader (and reminded me people who matter will always show up when it matters most) / when I can call my best friend and thank her for helping me get into my dream major and she says, “this was all you” / when someone in the audience of the Monologues tells the director that they hadn’t felt represented on that stage until they heard my performance / when all those hours at the Study Center and quiz section and working on Practice-It problems and crossed my fingers for green check marks all pays off, and I come out on the other side with a better understanding of the field that scared me for so long / when I tell my roommate that she deserves a spot in her major (just as much as all the other people in her program), and she believes me / when my friends want to celebrate their successes of becoming the president of a club or saying yes to a study abroad program, even though it’s a little nerve-wracking / when people I idolize as highly committed role models in higher education, thank me for covering their work in The Daily / when I can engage with people in my field and see them as experts of their own disciplines, and do the same with my own experiences / when I have options for future internships and have the privilege of choosing the one that aligns with the skillset I want to develop and leverage / when I can create a tagline about wanting to use technology and storytelling for social impact, and people want to hear more / when I abandon the appeal of the shallow and easy and write about the times that hurt, and receive encourage, support, and healing words from my classmates / when political science students working on their dissertation or prospective public health majors ask for my name because they want to keep working together on their writing / when I can feel confident enough in my work to send it to friends for feedback, and they thank me for sharing / / when the whole class audibly cheers when I announce that I was saying yes to my dream major /
when I realize that every single day of the rest of my life will bring my closer to a career that I love, and the chance to work hard at work worth doing /
when “Too Little Too Late” is just a JoJo song because I am here, living to fight another day and say yes to my dream major, even if it will take a little bit longer to finish
when all the wrong turns,
and the missteps,
led me straight to the right people /
when my job provides co-workers who ac as sounding boards when I need to clarify my goals and skills and aspirations / when people say “I’m with you 100% of the way through everything” and mean it/ when I feel unconditional love from teachers, the ones who I have admired my whole life, and they tell me that I will be an asset to whatever workplace I enter / when I realize that I’m grounded in values like inclusion and vulnerability and inclusion that color my work / when my friends offer their homes and their shoulders as places to reset when I need itmost / when I realize that I’ve become someone I’m proud to be /
when I realize that I am not just living, but blooming dangerously, despite it all. There is so much to be grateful for, and it starts with all the people who have come into my life and shown me how to see myself clearly and take pride in my work. And this is only the beginning.